Today’s post commences the first post in a new series on running shoes and how to navigate the shoe wall at a local running store.
Since I started working at the local running store nearly two years ago I have learned A LOT about running, running shoes and feet- and I’ll add- a little more about feet than I ever anticipated! What fun, right!? Yikes. That being said, if you want to find the running shoe with the best fit and feel then the sales employee will have to get up close and personal with your feet.
Bring on the blistered, the bunion-ed and the toenail-less runners! Come forth and show me your feet!!
So, what is the BEST running shoe?
At least once a day a new customer will come into the store, stare me square in the eye and then lean forward as if s/he is going to tell me a trusted secret that has been in the family for generations. Without fail the customer speaks in a soft whisper as she nods her head towards the shoe wall and says, “So what REALLY is the BEST shoe for running?!” Even now I can’t help but grin at this question. I’ll tell you right here, right now my honest answer:
“The BEST running shoe is the one that feels the most comfortable on YOUR uniquely shaped foot!”
The tricky part is that everyone’s feet are shaped differently. Some feet are wide with bunions, while others are narrow and flat. Trust me, I’ve seen it all! I’ve met a woman with a size 13 foot, a man with a size 8 4E (extra extra wide) and even a woman who wears a men’s size 7 wide!
Going running shoe shopping is actually a lot like bathing suit or jean shopping for women; you’re on the hunt to find the product that fits your curves the best! Just as jeans have different styles (boot cut, wide leg, matchstick, pencil), in a way shoes do too. Some brands run a little more snug and fitted throughout, while others run a little wider in the mid-foot and toe box. Some shoes are softer, while others are firmer. All the shoes feel incredibly different- trust me, I’ve tried them ALL on (muhahaha). There is a shoe out there for everyone (and if you’re lucky, 2 shoes for the same person, I call that the jackpot ;)). In all seriousness if you are on the hunt for a good pair of shoes then PLEASE do not order online; the descriptions of the shoes simply aren’t enough. Think about it: how often do you successfully buy a pair of jeans or a bathing suit online? Yea, I didn’t think so! You need to try each shoe on in person and assess how it feels on your foot to truly know if you like it!
I use the following FIVE criteria to narrow down the shoe wall with a customer:
1. Level of stability. Does the customer want/need a more minimal shoe, neutral, stability or motion control?
2. Level of cushioning. Do you prefer a firmer ride on the road or a softer, more spongy feel while afoot?
3. Snug vs. a more accommodating midfoot. Do you prefer for your shoes to fit like a snug slipper or do you prefer a roomier, more accomodating fit?
4. Heel to toe drop. I could (and probably will) write an entire post about heel to toe drop.
5. Intended use. What are you planning to do in the shoe? Are you looking for a shoe to train in for your next marathon or a shoe that you can use for running, lifting, cardio interval classes? This may slightly impact the shoe that is pulled for you.
By pairing what you want (cushioning, snug/loose fit and price) with what you need (stability based on the shape of your foot and gait analysis) any running store employee can help you best navigate the large shoe wall and find the BEST shoe for you!
Happy shoe shopping runners!!
Side note: No shoe can make you infinitely faster. Getting faster comes from hard work and consistency. It really is just that simple. If you want to get better at running then you need to run consistently (and in my opinion at least 3 times a week). #truth